In which we finish our tour of Philippi

by Craig on March 17, 2011

Most of our tour of Philippi is done. We’ve met the people, seen where our poverty stricken Philippian church lived, wandered the streets, and marveled at the ornate State owned buildings.

We were last seen in the Palaestra. This picture is of the Palaestra in Pompeii.

Now, if you haven’t missed any of the tour or don’t want a recap – just skip this next part in italics. If you have missed some – or want the recap regardless, here it is:

First we hiked our way into town checked out the pretty amphitheater (here)
Then we picked up a map, people watched, and headed to the poor part of town (here)
Then we hung out where most of our Philippian church lived (here and here)
Then we noticed how status-y Philippi was (here)
Then there was the story entitled “The trouble with Philippi” (here, here, here, and here)
Then we talked about how we know what it was like in Philippi (here)
Then we headed to downtown (here)
Then we hung around in the upscale dowwntown (here)

Which brings us here…

and now we head out of the Palaestra through the south exit

and we have only two stops left on our walk through.

The first would be a one-story building right across the street.

The “Vespasianae” was a place where the elite hardly ever went, but everyone else would visit all the time.

Inside were a series of three-foot high rows of marble.

On the walls might be drawings of the Roman gods Crepitus and Cloacina.

Paul would know just what the building was for and would only enter if he had to.

There was room for fifty seats in the building. The seats lay on top of the marble rows. They would be made of wood – with a hole in the middle of them.

Once inside, we too would know just what the building was for.

The two gods, by the way, were the ones of odor, and sewers, respectively. The rich had toilets in their own houses. Everyone else shared these public ones. We would now move on to the last stop with haste.

And yes, these are the seats from the actual Vespasianae in Philippi.

Continuing on from the Vespasianae we would now intersect with the road on which we originally entered. Looking way down the street to the left we would see the city gate. Across the street would be our last tour stop – the public baths.

Romans had made daily bathing an art form – think ancient spa treatment.

First you would oil up, then scrape off all the dirty oil, then descend into the heated water.

There were actually different rooms and pools of varying temperature. The men came at one time, the women at another. This is where people exchanged gossip, conducted business, and relaxed. The elite often had private baths but still would come here.

The bath house in Philippi would have been smaller than the one below – but this is a really good example of what it would have looked like.

It was free, so almost everyone in town was a bather.

There might have been envy,

quiet discontent

and trouble bubbling beneath the surface,

but our Philippian church was a clean bunch

if not a little oily.

Tomorrow we take all of this context from Philippi and bring it into our ongoing study of James – where he is about to tell us a story about the rich and the poor.

God Bless.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

A. March 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm

So interesting to learn about how cultures take care of basic needs…I would have wanted doors in the ‘hall of many seats’! I somehow suspect there weren’t any!


Craig March 18, 2011 at 10:04 am

And you suspect correctly A. no doors – just running water underneath and – well – never mind – but no doors. Some things actually do get better with time. God Bless.


Michelle March 18, 2011 at 4:23 am

I agree, A. Doors would be good.

Thanks for the tour, Craig. It will come in handy as you take us back to James, to understand a little more of the culture (which I know was the whole idea).


Craig March 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

Sorry to you too Michelle – I’d have put doors in myself. The Romans were practical but for the poor people not very considerate. All of this study of Philippi has my mind right in the first century church – all the letter will read differently now – James included.

God Bless You Michelle.


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